Written on an “obligatory backpacking trip across Europe,” “Traveller’s Shoes” turtles through country’s standard crop circles of dark humor and self-pity, but Bellows takes “the next step after crossing the line,” and his soapy disposition keeps us warm and washing in an impassioned wallow. Bellows shines like the plum cheeks of an old-country cowboy—good and sun-parched with the ruddy belly-aching of helplessly observing life slowly and forever lose its luster, like a great hourglass, the sand seeping through a tiny hole. Bellows rejoices in a cracked-back drawl, braced with the promise of remaining in a sad state. His ability to project dismay on the listener tenderizes one into a sadly dancing putty. Bellows works the old country miracle–the bar-saddled sad becomes good fun. “Traveller’s Shoes” withers on: “And your stories will keep on shining, but then the sun starts to set. You are a man that is easy to forget.” A cutting harmonica damns the slow scrape of wind-bagged drums as the transient’s dilemma blinks with endless recognition, and a slovenly smile creeps onto our faces.
In “Second Nature,” Bellows and Rind’s Lee Relvas broil together in thick drama in a punctuated duet with a dusty ruckus charm. Their deliberations must over kettle-ready steel and Relvas’ boozy songbird bacon-wraps the gristle of Bellows’ plain farm-boy folk. We chew and spit and get caught up in the carry-on.
Purchase Traveller’s Shows b/w Second Nature by John Bellows here.
Below, check out another gem from John Bellows. John Bellows performs “Bare To The Bone” live at LaLaLand.